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If You Can’t Join Them

by Nathan Zeno / 29.06.2009

Yesterdays Pupil’s music video for “Lines and Colours” has been rejected by MK on the grounds that it contains a drug reference. MK is the only music television channel that matters right now in South Africa. While we appreciate the fact that MK is aimed at 13-18 olds and being a commercial enterprise has to be careful about offending it’s consumers’ moms (who pay the subscription fee) we have to ask ourselves, where do they draw the line on inclusion and rejection?

The offending lyric in the song is “The chemicals in my brain says I like you, like you like cocaine”. A parallel is being drawn between the chemical process of falling for someone and the chemical process of liking a drug. The song does not advocate drug use. There are no judgments or recommendations inherent in this statement. But we must protect the children. Because as we all know introducing a concept to a young mind means they will have no choice but to make the wrong decision, right? And the concept here is cocaine, not love or infatuation, correct? In fact “Lines and Colours” lyrically and musically is probably a strong argument for natural highs over the instant gratification of drug use, if you want to read into it that deeply. But it seems that in thinking of the children we have to assume that they do not have the power to think for themselves. Which is why it’s safe to bombard them with the concept of “fokofpolisiekar”.

We at mahala believe that people of all ages should have the basic right to make choices for themselves. But mostly we’re just bummed that some kif South African music won’t see the light of day because of a relatively verkrampt mind set that amounts to censorship. It’s kind of what we expect from the SABC. We have sent some questions through to MK asking for their reasons behind this decision but until they respond we ask you to enjoy the video for “Lines and Colours” by Yesterday’s Pupil And while you do so think on this. If a musician has to create music based on a guideline, whether it be for TV or radio, then how can they truly express themselves. How can culture talk freely to society? And how then can we expect to hear anything new, original or relevant?

And while we’re at it, let’s just compile a quick list off the top of our heads of some of the other songs that have made it into the canon of global pop hits with dubious drug references:

Cocaine Blues – Johnny Cash
Cocaine – JJ Cale (covered more famously by Eric Clapton)
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – The Beatles
Purple Haze – Jimmy Hendrix
Much of Bob Marley’s lyrical content
Smoke 2 Joints – Sublime
Rehab – Amy Winehouse
Because I Got High – Afroman

Yesterdays Pupil “Error of Enthusiasm” is available at Musica and is selling quite nicely thank you, even if TuksFM is refusing to play “Lines and Colours” for the same reason.

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RESPONSES (16)
  1. Zoe says:

    Burn One Down – Ben Harper. One of the most awesome songs about weed that basically says “What’s the problem?” Oooh, and The Irony Of It All – The Streets. It compares weed to alcohol, and alcohol definitely comes off looking more evil. Ask MK if they advocate drinking references…

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  2. Clem says:

    mk need to seriously catch a wake up…they also rejected the sick-leaves vid for black disciple because too much was going on…HUH??!!!south african mainstream media need to take their heads out their asses!!!kudos to uze for doing something constructive!

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  3. Ashley says:

    This is exactly one of the things Bill Hicks fought for! I hope I still get to see this video on TV, it is amazing… they have rejcted art!

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  4. Sindy-Lou says:

    Yip, moms who pay subscription fees certainly don’t want their little sweethearts singing about drugs but isn’t it so very cute when they’re doing a rendition of Britney’s “If U Seek Amy”. Like seriously, WTF.

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  5. Tara says:

    Typing about good local music not making our screens and stereos because of cheap stereo-typing makes me growly.

    Are we being simultaneously overlooked and patronised by our own national media?
    If our own national media doesn’t take good home grown music seriously, why should anyone else?

    Children are pretty intelligent. Every child will become a teenager – a human animal that often requires everything it hasn’t been allowed to have or know about. In fact I’ll bet that many parents have tried cocaine once or twice in their lifetime. This song is more about a crush and its chemical implication.

    MK is a commercial venture and we know that commercial choices must be made.
    Actually whatever MK, or VH1, or MTV choose to air is the accepted prescribed commercial.
    C’mon MK make the decision, is it accepted and popular because you like it or because we get to like it after you’ve chosen it.

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  6. Peter says:

    MK’s reaction is very lame. I didn’t draw any drug related conclusions to the song until this was pointed out – and it still doesn’t really make sense.

    This is really a great video! I really like it… and it doesn’t make we want to take any drugs.

    I hope MK change their minds and let more people see this awesome video.

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  7. Niel from Speakerbox says:

    As the only real outlet for quality music videos in ZA, MK has a responsibility NOT to puss out at the very mention of anything offensive. They pulled something similar with a ‘sexually explicit’ video of Evet, which you can see on YouTube. Needless, to say, the video was about as explicit as an FHM cover shoot, which is to say not very. This video is of an infinitely higher quality, but the trend, and the thinking behind it, is disturbing.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    But they play Fokofpolisiekar in full colours O_o

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  9. Jacques says:

    With or without this song, I still doing lines this weekend. 🙂

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  10. eniadan says:

    what about SNOTKOp?? naked girls, its like a porn music video?i think that music plays like 7 times a day! and some of the other stuff thats just as bad..come on MK..

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  11. BLAZER says:

    I think its one of the best music videos i’ve ever seen, if they had sucha big problem couldn’t they just bleep out the word, or just replace it with a word that rhymes?

    So much for sharing music, what happened to that idea…

    what would make a song title better if it was colours and crimes?

    the point is earth went to shit a long time ago, these people actually don’t give a s !-! ¦ T whether or not you want to spread your word or let people hear your music, they have these little white pieces of paper that tell them what they can do, and when it suits them they make exceptions, they just haven’t realised that this decision doesn’t suit them… i’m friends with alot of these guys, they have exceptional talent and could do well in the world music industry, the question is, will mk and tuks and such organizations actually make space for artists to grow unless they really do it themselves. i’m sure MTV would love to play that music video on the global chart count down, M WHO???

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  12. Me-me-me says:

    WHAT an awesome video and song… and WHAT a pity that more people aren’t going to see this. 🙁

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  13. graeme feltham says:

    don’t think it is wise to play their game, Zero.
    whoever has become enamoured of cocaine knows it is healthy but only for vacations.
    taken daly it will make you paranoid and impotent.
    but for that rare surf all swells uo, Wodja Wabbit.

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  14. Nathan Zeno says:

    Feltham, I know you struggle with concepts like embeded video and facebook fan pages. But watch the video or listen to the song on hi FB page before you jump to conclusions. The song is not about cocaine, it is about how the chemical process of falling in lust/love with someone is similar to the addictive chemical process of cocaine.

    Love is also healthy for vacations.

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  15. Carol Reed says:

    > Blazer

    I’m sure MK would play it if they changed the word. That’s the whole problem.

    Take for example the (most annoying) James Blunt song “You’re Beautiful”
    the song you hear on the radio goes like this

    “yeah, she caught my eye
    as we walked on by.
    she could see from my face that i was
    flying high.
    and i don’t think I’ll see her again,
    But we shared a moment that will last till the end”

    The implication is that he is flying high from seeing her.
    The Album version goes

    “yeah, she caught my eye
    as we walked on by.
    she could see from my face that i was
    fucking high.
    and i don’t think I’ll see her again,
    But we shared a moment that will last till the end”

    And there the meaning could be many things. He was high and she knew, that the moment they shared. Or he was high, she knew and therefore didn’t have a chance. Or he was high and hallucinated her looking at him.

    The point is Blunt changed the lyric because they wouldn’t play it on radio otherwise. Only a sellout average desperado like Blunt would do such a thing and Yesterdays Pupil are not that kind of musicians.

    To further illustrate lets say you wanted to tell someone you disliked them and you we’re told that because “dislike” is an uncomfortable term you had to use the word “love”.

    Changing the word changes the meaning, and that would defeat the point of self expression, no?

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  16. graeme feltham says:

    it’s not so much a struggling with concepts . . . more a transgressing.
    uhoh . . . hang on is that the Ordained Inevitable i hrsr klumphingoberstamfuhrer behind me

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